After our 6 weeks of lessons and lectures, we had a week-long cruise through the Russian north (well, more north than St. Petersburg). This was a great ending to our program, though it’s tough to believe that in less than a day we’ll all be going our separate ways. We had a stop every day:
Мандроги / Mandrogi: this was the first place we stopped, and was pretty disappointing as it is essentially a fake country village solely existing the benefit of tourists. Anna Maslennikova dubbed it a “tourist trap.” One of the first things we saw when disembarking was a large tent, on which was written “Mandrogi: Welcome to Show.” It was just sad. It was good that we got this out of the way first, as it paled compared to all the other stops, but we were worried the rest would be more of the same.
Петрозаводск / Petrozavodsk: a small city, which was nice to see since St. Petersburg is fairly unique with all of its excessive palaces and cultural places. Petrozavodsk had a lot of gift sculptures (from other countries), and halfway through our guided tour we wondered if that was all we were going to see. After that was free time, and I went on a very long exploration through the city, which I can barely begin to recount, but all I can say is that I’m glad I have a good sense of direction (in spite of any counterexamples you may have).
Кижи / Kizhi: an island with an old monastery (not sure if it’s exactly a monastery) with a wooden church that is unmistakably traditional Russian styled. We took a boat ride to some adjacent islands and saw some other interesting places.
Свирьстрой / Cvir’stroy: a Russian derevnya (village) which was also interesting to see in contrast to the cities. A Russian guy had cut his head open while swimming but his friends were on the other side of the lake, so we helped him back to the boat.
Валаам / Valaam: more islands and monasteries, but very different from Kizhi (the first part of the excursion was about a 7 km hike).
This was a great trip, and it was very interesting to see all of these places which are obviously very different than St. Petersburg, which was the only place I’d been in Russia up to this point. Tonight is a farewell party, and then the program is over; it’s tough to believe that the 7 weeks have already come and gone. Another interesting aspect of this program, as opposed to most of what I’ve done so far, is that we are from all over the country; most students from Stony Brook live within an hour or two of it, so last year after our study abroad program, most of us were still able to hang out all the time during the rest of the summer, but that will obviously not be the case this time. Another interesting thing: duck, duck, _____. In Minnesota, it’s not “goose,” but “grey duck.” Вот.